Johnny Thunders Show @ Scorgies

Johnny Thunders at Scorgies - Photo by J. Laben

Johnny Thunders at Scorgies - Photo by J. Laben

I remember The Heartbreakers show at Scorgies.

Richard Hell and Walter Luhr had dropped out for that one.

I really wanted the Bowery Boys to open one of the 2 shows but we were’nt part of the clique that had started and were more or less getting squeezed out of the scene we helped create.                                         Egomania was’nt my thing so I layed low. Most of the new people made me sick, they weren’t even musicians, but scenesters with instruments.

It’s funny though because the poster says “featuring Walter Luhr”. I don’t remember him being there.

I hung with them in the dressing room before the show and on the way to the stage, I asked Johnny to play “Can’t put your arms around a memory”  in the set. He did and dedicated it to Walter.

I remember hearing Johnny saying “This ones for Walltah”

As I recall, it was Johnny, Luigi, Big Tony, and Jerry Nolan.

They arrived early evening and I helped Jerry and Johnny score some naughty stuff and we spent about 20 minutes at my bands practice place.

While waiting for the man we jammed on some blues, Afterwards, Jerry said Johnny wants to know if I want to join there band. It was wierd because Johnny was standing there looking at me like  Jerry was his interpreter. I politely declined and explained I had a band already (and wasn’t into that naughty stuff that kills people). It was exciting hanging with them but the thought of joining a band of junkies was a real turnoff for me. I was battling depression and barely clinging on to life as it was. I was never into getting famous at all, but I sure like it when we made some bread playing rock and roll.

The landlord liked getting his rent as well.

Johnny gave me a, DON’T YOU KNOW WHO WE ARE, YOU STUPID ASS ? kind of look.

I didn’t care. I hung out with them again in the dressing room later that night but few words were exchanged. The contract had them going on about midnight and they rolled in at about 5 after One.  Scorgie was really pissed but they played a very hot set. There is a tape floating around somewhere of that show. I think Big Tony (bass) came into the upstairs dressing room first, followed by Luigi (2nd guitar).        I was freaked out by Luigi because he came in, sat down, put his feet on the coffe table, pulled out a switchblade and started cleaning his fingernails.

I thought to myself, maan, these New York dudes are pretty tough.

I recalled this to Luigi and he laughed, it is but a vague memory to him now but he remembers giving the knife to Angella Bowie as a gift.

(I remember my ex drummer Scott coming in the dressing room too and remarking on how he should have stayed on drums or something of that nature. He had jumped the Bowery ship to sing for the Prestones, and he was perfect for that band so it all worked out fine.)

So Jerry, Johnny, and Big Tony are dead now, and I have been playing a few shows with Luigi lately here in New York.  We live near each other in Alphabet City.

My latest band (The Bowery Boys) has played a few shows with Walter Luhr’s band The Waldo’s.            Walter is a very smooth rocker and a cool guy. He still plays songs by Johnny Blunders.                              (as he so endearingly refers to him)

I prefer to see musicians grow old gracefully rather than die too young, leaving so much left undone.

I hung with Johnny briefly about a month before he died, when he came to Rochester to play at Jazzberries and record with the Chesterfields. I gave him the mini statue of liberty pin off my leather jacket and he immediately put it on his leather jacket. He looked very empty in his eyes and I was sad for him when I left. He signed some albums for my girl (at the time) Diane. He spelled it DIE an.    I still have the albums.       Johnny died about 4 or 5 weeks later. I was shocked but not suprised.

The set he played at Jazzberries was stellar. A focused, mature, fairly sober Johnny Thunders and a great sax player (who also is passed on). There is a video circulating.

POP CULTURE IS A KILLER SOMETIMES.                                                                                                                 Children beware.                                                                                                                                                            Peace                                                                                                                                                                      {:->

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  1. Jlaben’s avatar

    I have a cassette tape of one of the two Scorgies shows. We recorded our set and their set and the quality of the tape is quite good. I just have to find it but I have a pretty good idea which stack it’s in. The first 5 minutes, as usual for any time Johnny played live, is him just tuning his guitar on stage. I think they then went into Pipeline.

    I passed along a couple of Johnny pics from that night, taken from the front of the stage, to Stan so maybe they will make an appearance on this website sometime.

    I’m not certain if “Most of the new people made me sick, they weren’t even musicians, but scenesters with instruments.” is directed at our band but it doesn’t matter to me if it was.

    I saw the Dolls for the first time in 1975 and the original Heartbreakers lineup in late ’78 or early ’79 at My Father’s Place (of all places) in Long Island and both of Johnny’s bands are still among my all time favorites – we covered Dolls songs and Heartbrakers songs for encores as tributes – so I think our credentials passed the test. I never caught the Waldo’s live but I have Walter Lure’s “Rent party” CD in regular rotation in my car. Love That Kills, baby.

    I don’t know who made the posters up for the show – maybe Richard Kaza? – but they sure were funny.

    We were kind of hoping that Johnny might join us for a rousing edition of “Showdown” or “Do You Love Me” for an encore but when they didn’t show up again at the bar until after 12:30pm, it kind of threw that idea right out the window. Scorgie was not pleased.


  2. Jlaben’s avatar

    That’s “12:30am”…


  3. Simon Ribas’s avatar

    The posters were made by Kaza and Natasha. I remember he took a lot of heat for the “blow me” line, and there was a bit of tension. For a funny story, ask Peter Presstone about Thunders blowing up his amp. I also remember Thunders saying something like, “What the hell is a presstone, anyway.” Funny story though, we’re still alive.


  4. Jlaben’s avatar

    Well, none of the heat came from me. It was a tremendous line. One of my favorites.

    I still use it a couple of times a week.


  5. Jason L. Brown’s avatar

    I recall the party after the Saturday night show. For some reason I’m picturing Barrington St., but I could be way off on that. It could have been Bonesteel St. Johnny and the boys showed up and were greeted with a hail of beer cans and bitter invective by a crowd peeved with having payed the outrageous $6 cover only to have Johnny play five or so songs and then decamp to the dressing room never to return after his White Russian wasn’t delivered to the stage with proper dispatch, and wherein presumably he resumed getting up to all kinds of no good. He and the the band swapped insults with the party people for a while then piled back into the car (I have no idea who was ushering them about town that night) and motored off into the night.

    The short-lived acoustic combo The Folk Explosion (Peter Presstone, Brian Horton, Paul Ruske, me) opened for Thunders at the Jazzberry’s show. He was good that night, far better than I thought he’d be. I never did talk to the guy – he seemed surrounded by a protective claque of House of Guitars flunkies.


  6. Pete Pavia’s avatar

    This is one reason I don’t hate the internet as much as I should. Jason Brown, whom I did not know then, but later met through my brother Stevie, remembers the Scorgie’s show exactly as I do. They went on late, of course, Scorgie was ossified with booze and rage, of course, and the Heartbreakers played 6 songs. When everybody started booing, Johnny said, “Whatta you guys expect for 6 bucks?” Who was the dude at the side of the stage with the machete? The band did come to that after-party (Barrington St? Okay) and machete guy was there, but so were Johnny and Jerry. I could not believe these mopes had the balls to show their faces, pissed as everybody was at them. I must have talked to Jerry Nolan for a minute, and that’s right, the guys didn’t stick around long. I don’t recall the hail of beer cans. That may have happened before I got there. Only other thing I remember was pulling the needle off some lame record, probably a reggae tune, to slap on a side of my own choosing. It wasn’t the Heratbreakers.


  7. jOff wilsOn’s avatar

    Greetings Jeff,
    Hope all is well with you and yours.
    I was just reading your comment about having a copy of the show.
    I think Richard has a copy of the night with the Presstones supporting.
    It would be cool to put them both together.
    I would love to have a copy of the Cliche’s livewith the Heartbreakers.
    I have been playing lately with Luigi that played with Johnny that night and his memory is very foggy.
    Luigi would love to have a copy of the show for sentimental reasons.
    (The other guys have passed on as you may well know.)
    A very nice chap these days and still rockin.
    We played together at J.T.’s b’day bash along with the Waldo’s
    and N.Y. Junk(featuring Cynthia, bass for the B Girls)
    at a fairly new club near the old c.b.g.b.’s called Bowery Electric.
    This show coincided with a 3 cd release party of N.Y. bands covering Johnny’s music.
    It was recorded about 15 years ago and just released.

    It’s a trip living here and seeing all the ghosts from the past in person.
    You must come and see The Waldo’s live sometime while Walter is still Rocking.

    If it is possible for you to share a copy of the Cliche’s/Heartbreakers show we would be most appreciative.

    My address is 610 E. 9th St. # 20
    N.Y.C. 10009

    peace and light,

    I will post a pic or short vid of the Waldo’s live at that last show on your Facebook as well now that I know you dig ’em.


  8. Jack McHugh’s avatar

    Saw Johnny + Heartbreakers for 1st time at “My Father’s Place” – a converted bowling alley. I was 17 and already looked old enough to buy alcohol (drinking age 18). Johnny opened with a crappy nylon acoustic doing what later became his “acoustic set” including “Memory”. It was hot as hell, yet Johnny was in full dress up: Top Hat, odd suit jacket, ,matching pants. Total heroin chic. (before it was chic). After a few songs he said,
    “What? Are you kids bored?” no answer. He said “Fuck this shit” and threw the crappy acoustic guitar on the stage, only it slid very fast into the wall and smashed in about 5 pieces. After what seemed like forever, (will he ever come out?) Lights go down, everybody screams, lights come up, Walter Lure, Jerry Nolan, and Johnny. (all I can remember). I experienced for the 1st time, the whole “insulting shtick”, I’ve come to love so much.

    Walter: “Why don’t you kids move? Turn a table over or something?” We sat/stood there like the virgins we were.
    Johnny: ” Yeah, you kids are borin’ the shit out of us”, now in a wife beater sweating profusely. (he had obviously fixed)
    Johnny: ” Who wants to buy me a drink?”
    Me- “I will, whaddya want?” – yes I was on ludes and drunk
    Johnny- “Gimme that blue shit. Ask the bitch behind the bar, she knows what it is”
    Me-to the bartender -“The blue stuff” — she already had the glass ready.
    I hand her a $10 bill and run to the stage, while being cheered on by the ever enthusiastic crowd, now “getting it”
    Then the famous “Anybody got a joint?” line, repeated at so many shows. I can’t recall the rest, except to say it was the best rock+roll show I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen the Stones and Led Zeppelin.
    Viva Johnny Thunders!

    I have another great story about meeting him after a sound check at the Ritz in NYC. It was the “Que Sera Sera” tour, but I’m saving that one. . .

    Hope someone enjoyed this.


  9. Greg’s avatar

    Please tell the que sea sera story!


  10. Jack McHugh’s avatar

    I messed that up, it was Irving Plaza before it was yuppiezed. A dank dark old movie house. My buddy and me got into the city early, like 4pm. Found the place, went in to get tickets, so we could go party a little. At the ticket window, we hear a band jamming not realizing it was Johnny. Yes, a sound check, can you imagine? It was slow motion, thru the far set of double doors comes Johnny, guitar case in hand. We ran out after him, trying not to look like it, he picked us up on his NYC radar.

    JT: “Hey guys”

    Me: “Hey Johnny man, this guy loves you man, (pointing to my friend)

    JT: “What about you?”

    Me: “Oh yeah yeah, huh, me too. My buddy Bobby here got me into you!”

    JT: “Where you from?”

    Me: “Long Island, Uh .. Nassau County.” (trying to get some cred for being close to Queens)

    JT: “Okay, you guys are my body guards for the next two blocks, and when I say goodbye, you can’t walk any further. One a you stands on one side, and one on the other”

    Me: “Yeah, okay..okay”

    So we walk, two blocks went by in about 15 seconds it seemed. Got a few questions in, he was really nice. I made sure to tell him “Love the new album” Que Sera Sera had just come out like a month before.

    Then we hung a left at some street I never heard of, to a fenced in lot. He said, “OK boys, this is it” – We were as chill as we could be. A tall skinny black dude with dreads was there, and someone else. I think it was the guy from the album Tony St. Helene. Not positive. They walked over to a fancy imported car, like a SAAB or something. When they got there, they ducked down and disappeared. We look at each other like, WTF? Then that car pulled slowly out. “Don’t look, don’t look” We were having trouble not being awestruck, at the same time realizing he was obviously copping.


    We hang around downtown at some bars, getting drunk, smoking weed etc. We wanted to get in that door as soon as possible. So we ended up at some little bar next door. I step between two guys at the bar to buy a drink, and standing next to me is Walter Lure.

    Me: “Holy shit, Walter man, hey Bobby look who it is!”
    “What are you doin’ here? You playing with Johnny?”

    Walter: “No man, just hanging out with Syl.”

    Me: “Who?” (I look next to me there’s Sylvain Sylvain smiling away)
    “Oh shit, Hey man! How you doin?”

    We talked for what seemed like a half hour, super nice guys. We bought them both drinks. I think Syl didn’t want a drink. I offered Walter some Valium, and he said “No thanks man, I wanna go uptown tonight”
    Took me a minute. Uptown – Coke.

    Sylvain: “Hey I gotta get going, don’t forget the shows starting”

    Said our goodbyes. Oh and we got a pen and Syl and Walter signed a cocktail napkin with L.A.M.F. written on it. My buddy has it framed.

    Inside we got right up to the stage. I had a camera that took really good shots. All poster quality, using high speed film. Next time I’m down to LI, I have to find my friend and copy those shots. I had a set but an ex-girlfriend knew they were important and destroyed them along with other Rock n Roll collectibles. (cunt)

    Johnny took an intermission and I saw him go upstairs. I went up were he did, and it was like no one cared. I saw him leaning up against the wall talking with a bunch of girls, and this model-chic rolling her eyes like it was his girlfriend. I stood at the bar worried I might get bounced. I thought it might be a VIP area. Then I saw two flash bulbs near Johnny. I said, fuck it, here’s my chance. I walked over and took two shots of him there. 1 came out great. He had on this outfit with an bright aqua vest that showed up great on film. He had really good makeup on, and his hair looked like it was just styled. He was pretty together compared to when I saw him in 1980 at My Fathers Place.

    I saw him twice more, but that was the most memorable. I paraphrased of course, but it’s to the best of my memory.

    Sorry, I know this is a Scorgies page, but I don’t know how to start a page/blog, so I stuck it here.

    Hope someone liked it!


  11. Stan the Man’s avatar

    Nice slice of life, Jack… plenty of Johnny Thunders fans here who’ll dig it!



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